Mikaela Pacis Am I still Pinoy?

  • Tauira / Student
    Mikaela Pacis
  • Kaiako / Lecturers
    Luke Mcconnell, Jordan Foster, Joanne Hair
  • School

Nowadays, many Filipinos face the tough choice of leaving their home country to seek employment opportunities, improve their quality of life, or support their loved ones who remained in the Philippines. Emigrating has become a common goal for most Filipinos. However, in order to thrive and feel a sense of community, Filipinos living abroad must adapt to their new surroundings, which often entails compromising their ties to their cultural heritage and motherland; hence, future generations of Filipino immigrants must find ways to preserve our culture, values and traditions; sustain our connection to our families and country; and redefine our relationship with our identities.

Living outside my country made terms like ‘Filipino’ and ‘Pinoy’ unfamiliar; I feared losing my connection to my heritage. This fear made me hesitant to identify as Filipino. However, after talking with my Filipino peers, I realized this feeling is common among young Filipino immigrants. Despite this, I also saw a strong desire to preserve and reconnect with our culture, values, and traditions for future generations.

I was motivated to write and design a reflective publication that follows my journey in learning more about my Filipino origins, reclaiming confidence in my identity, and confronting the main question that inspired my whole journey and this project’s title—‘Am I still Pinoy?’

In this publication, I delve into my family’s experiences as first-generation immigrants in Aotearoa. I discuss topics such as sacrifice, belonging, and the effects of the Filipino diaspora. To do this, I share personal reflections and interviews with my family. Through storytelling, I aim to share our perspectives and have meaningful conversations with the audience.

During interviews with my family, the metaphor of an overweight suitcase became influential within the publication, helping to visually represent the reality of Filipino immigrants leaving everything to move overseas. Contents inside overweight suitcases are shed to the correct weight before being allowed to travel. Similarly, Filipino Immigrants must undergo the painful process of shedding parts of themselves; tangible and intangible things (such as family, friends, memories, and religion) are given up to assimilate into another culture successfully.

My family’s memorabilia, old photographs, handwritten notes, and essential past belongings represent all we have left behind in the Philippines. Old photographs overlap, continuing across the page and constantly changing composition. The dynamic approach to the imagery and page layout simulates the act of recollecting memories. Within the chapter titles, experimentation with materials, such as transparent paper stock, further anchors this idea. With each turn of the page, photos gradually decrease, simulating the shedding of parts of oneself, the shedding of the suitcase.

My goal with ‘Am I still Pinoy?’ is to share my journey as a young Filipino immigrant and let others know they are not alone. Through my story, I hope to inspire others to embark on their cultural journey and connect with their roots. Additionally, I aim to spark dialogue within Filipino communities and encourage action to empower future generations of Filipino immigrants to preserve their ties to our country and culture.